May 26 - Romans 1.16-32, 1 Samuel 9.1-10.16 and Psalm 55

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The Power of the Good News

Romans 1 16I am proud of the good news! It is God's powerful way of saving all people who have faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 17The good news tells how God accepts everyone who has faith, but only those who have faith. It is just as the Scriptures say, "The people God accepts because of their faith will live."

Everyone Is Guilty

18From heaven God shows how angry he is with all the wicked and evil things that sinful people do to crush the truth. 19They know everything that can be known about God, because God has shown it all to them. 20God's eternal power and character cannot be seen. But from the beginning of creation, God has shown what these are like by all he has made. That's why those people don't have any excuse. 21They know about God, but they don't honor him or even thank him. Their thoughts are useless, and their stupid minds are in the dark. 22They claim to be wise, but they are fools. 23They don't worship the glorious and eternal God. Instead, they worship idols that are made to look like humans who cannot live forever, and like birds, animals, and reptiles.
24So God let these people go their own way. They did what they wanted to do, and their filthy thoughts made them do shameful things with their bodies. 25They gave up the truth about God for a lie, and they worshiped God's creation instead of God, who will be praised forever. Amen.
26God let them follow their own evil desires. Women no longer wanted to have sex in a natural way, and they did things with each other that were not natural. 27Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. They did shameful things with each other, and what has happened to them is punishment for their foolish deeds.
28Since these people refused even to think about God, he let their useless minds rule over them. That's why they do all sorts of indecent things. 29They are evil, wicked, and greedy, as well as mean in every possible way. They want what others have, and they murder, argue, cheat, and are hard to get along with. They gossip, 30say cruel things about others, and hate God. They are proud, conceited, and boastful, always thinking up new ways to do evil.
These people don't respect their parents. 31They are stupid, unreliable, and don't have any love or pity for others. 32They know God has said that anyone who acts this way deserves to die. But they keep on doing evil things, and they even encourage others to do them.

Saul Meets Samuel

1 Samuel 9 Kish was a wealthy man who belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. His father was Abiel, his grandfather was Zeror, his great-grandfather was Becorath, and his great-great-grandfather was Aphiah. 2Kish had a son named Saul, who was better looking and more than a head taller than anyone else in all Israel.
3Kish owned some donkeys, but they had run off. So he told Saul, "Take one of the servants and go look for the donkeys."
4Saul and the servant went through the hill country of Ephraim and the territory of Shalishah, but they could not find the donkeys. Then they went through the territories of Shaalim and Benjamin, but still there was no sign of the donkeys. 5Finally they came to the territory where the clan of Zuph lived. "Let's go back home," Saul told his servant. "If we don't go back soon, my father will stop worrying about the donkeys and start worrying about us!"
6"Wait!" the servant answered. "There's a man of God who lives in a town near here. He's amazing! Everything he says comes true. Let's talk to him. Maybe he can tell us where to look."
7Saul said, "How can we talk to the prophet when I don't have anything to give him? We don't even have any bread left in our sacks. What can we give him?"
8"I have a small piece of silver," the servant answered. "We can give him that, and then he will tell us where to look for the donkeys."
9-10"Great!" Saul replied. "Let's go to the man who can see visions!" He said this because in those days God would answer questions by giving visions to prophets.
Saul and his servant went to the town where the prophet lived. 11As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women coming out to get water, and the two men said to them, "We're looking for the man who can see visions. Is he in town?"
12"Yes, he is," they replied. "He's in town today because there's going to be a sacrifice and a sacred meal at the place of worship. In fact, he's just ahead of you. Hurry 13and you should find him right inside the town gate. He's on his way out to the place of worship to eat with the invited guests. They can't start eating until he blesses the sacrifice. If you go now, you should find him."
14They went to the town, and just as they were going through the gate, Samuel was coming out on his way to the place of worship.
15The day before Saul came, the LORD had told Samuel, 16"I've seen how my people are suffering, and I've heard their call for help. About this time tomorrow I'll send you a man from the tribe of Benjamin, who will rescue my people from the Philistines. I want you to pour olive oil on his head to show that he will be their leader."
17Samuel looked at Saul, and the LORD told Samuel, "This is the man I told you about. He's the one who will rule Israel."
18Saul went over to Samuel in the gateway and said, "A man who can see visions lives here in town. Could you tell me the way to his house?"
19"I am the one who sees visions!" Samuel answered. "Go on up to the place of worship. You will eat with me today, and in the morning I'll answer your questions. 20Don't worry about your donkeys that ran off three days ago. They've already been found. Everything of value in Israel now belongs to you and your family."
21"Why are you telling me this?" Saul asked. "I'm from Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my clan is the least important in the tribe."

Saul Eats with Samuel and Stays at His House

22Samuel took Saul and his servant into the dining room at the place of worship. About thirty people were there for the dinner, but Samuel gave Saul and his servant the places of honor. 23-24Then Samuel told the cook, "I gave you the best piece of meat and told you to set it aside. Bring it here now."
The cook brought the meat over and set it down in front of Saul. "This is for you," Samuel told him. "Go ahead and eat it. I had this piece saved especially for you, and I invited these guests to eat with you."
After Saul and Samuel had finished eating, 25they went down from the place of worship and back into town. A bed was set up for Saul on the flat roof of Samuel's house, 26and Saul slept there.
About sunrise the next morning, Samuel called up to Saul on the roof, "Time to get up! I'll help you get started on your way."
Saul got up. He and Samuel left together 27and had almost reached the edge of town when Samuel stopped and said, "Have your servant go on. Stay here with me for a few minutes, and I'll tell you what God has told me."

Samuel Tells Saul He Will Be King

After the servant had gone,
1 Samuel 10 1Samuel took a small jar of olive oil and poured it on Saul's head. Then he kissed Saul and told him:
The LORD has chosen you to be the leader and ruler of his people. 2When you leave me today, you'll meet two men near Rachel's tomb at Zelzah in the territory of Benjamin. They'll tell you, "The donkeys you've been looking for have been found. Your father has forgotten about them, and now he's worrying about you! He's wondering how he can find you."
3Go on from there until you reach the big oak tree at Tabor, where you'll meet three men on their way to worship God at Bethel. One of them will be leading three young goats, another will be carrying three round loaves of bread, and the last one will be carrying a clay jar of wine. 4After they greet you, they'll give you two loaves of bread.
5Next, go to Gibeah, where the Philistines have an army camp. As you're going into the town, you'll meet a group of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They'll be going along prophesying while others are walking in front of them, playing small harps, small drums, and flutes.
6The Spirit of the LORD will suddenly take control of you. You'll become a different person and start prophesying right along with them. 7After these things happen, do whatever you think is right! God will help you.
8Then you should go to Gilgal. I'll come a little later, so wait for me. It may even take a week for me to get there, but when I come, I'll offer sacrifices and offerings to the LORD. I'll also tell you what to do next.

Saul Goes Back Home

9As Saul turned around to leave Samuel, God made Saul feel like a different person. That same day, everything happened just as Samuel had said. 10When Saul arrived at Gibeah, a group of prophets met him. The Spirit of God suddenly took control of him, and right there in the middle of the group he began prophesying.
11Some people who had known Saul for a long time saw that he was speaking and behaving like a prophet. They said to each other, "What's happened? How can Saul be a prophet?"
12"Why not?" one of them answered. "Saul has as much right to be a prophet as anyone else!" That's why everyone started saying, "How can Saul be a prophet?"
13After Saul stopped prophesying, he went to the place of worship.
14Later, Saul's uncle asked him, "Where have you been?"
Saul answered, "Looking for the donkeys. We couldn't find them, so we went to talk with Samuel."
15"And what did he tell you?" Saul's uncle asked.
16Saul answered, "He told us the donkeys had been found." But Saul didn't mention that Samuel had chosen him to be king.

Psalm 55
[A special psalm by David for the music leader. Use with stringed instruments.]
Betrayed by a Friend

1Listen, God, to my prayer! Don't reject my request.
2Please listen and help me.
My thoughts are troubled, and I keep groaning
3because my loud enemies shout and attack.
They treat me terribly and hold angry grudges.
4My heart is racing fast, and I am afraid of dying.
5I am trembling with fear, completely terrified.

6I wish I had wings like a dove,
so I could fly far away and be at peace.
7I would go and live in some distant desert.
8I would quickly find shelter
from howling winds and raging storms.

9Confuse my enemies, Lord! Upset their plans.
Cruelty and violence are all I see in the city,
10and they are like guards on patrol day and night.
The city is full of trouble, evil, 11and corruption.
Troublemakers and liars freely roam the streets.

12My enemies are not the ones who sneer and make fun.
I could put up with that or even hide from them.
13But it was my closest friend, the one I trusted most.
14We enjoyed being together,
and we went with others to your house, our God.

15All who hate me are controlled by the power of evil.
Sentence them to death
and send them down alive to the world of the dead.
16I ask for your help, LORD God,
and you will keep me safe.
17Morning, noon, and night
you hear my concerns and my complaints.
18I am attacked from all sides,
but you will rescue me unharmed by the battle.
19You have always ruled, and you will hear me.
You will defeat my enemies
because they won't turn and worship you.

20My friend turned against me and broke his promise.
21His words were smoother than butter,
and softer than olive oil.
But hatred filled his heart,
and he was ready to attack with a sword.

22Our LORD, we belong to you.
We tell you what worries us,
and you won't let us fall.
23But what about those people who are cruel and brutal?
You will throw them down
into the deepest pit long before their time.
I trust you, LORD!

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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